Ireland Sightseeing

West

Galway
Galway is a spectacular blend of richness and ruggedness and is one of Ireland's most luminous places. In Galway city you can visit Claddagh Quay, probably Ireland's oldest fishing village. You may wish to purchase a Claddagh ring, which is formed by two hands clasping a heart and has become a traditional wedding ring. Lynch's Castle, established in 1320, is one of Ireland's finest examples of a castellated mansion within a town. At the Salmon Weir Bridge you can watch the salmon leap upstream on their way to spawn on early spring and summer days.

Sligo
Sligo is one of the most attractively sited towns in Ireland with mountains to the north and south. The 13th-century Sligo Abbey, destroyed in 1641 when the town was sacked, now has restored cloisters. Just outside the town, Lough Gill is Yeats "Lake isle of Innisfree".

Bundoran
A popular resort on an inlet of Donegal Bay, Bundoran has a wide sandy beach the action of the Atlantic on the cliffs has caused some interesting rock formations - the Wishing Chair, the Puffing Hole and a natural arch known as the Fairy Bridge.

Croagh Patrick, Louisburgh
A conical mountain on which St Patrick spend the 40 days of Lent in AD441, Croagh Patrick (also known as The Reek) has an oratory on its summit, and thousands of pilgrims climb its 2,510ft height each July for a mass. The climb begins beside the beautiful ruin of Murrisk Abbey, a 14th-century Augustinian foundation. Spectacular views await climbers at the summit; to the south the Twelve Pins can be seen, and to the north island-studded Clew Bay.

Southwest

Cliffs of Moher, Kilconnell
They stand on the edge of Ireland with the Atlantic crashing on the rocks 700 feet below and look out on the Aran islands in the distance A few miles from the coast is one of the strangest landscapes in Ireland, the Burren. Here there are fascinating neo-lithic tombs called dolmens, and concealed in the fissures of the rocks are some of the most exotic flora and fauna that lure botanists from around the world. And underneath are the Ailwee caves.

Dingle Peninsula
Here the dramatic mountains sweep down to golden beaches and stark rocks. The greens of the hills in contrast with the wildness of the scenes make Dingle an enchanted pace. Dingle is a native Gaelic speaking area and the lilt of this ancient tongue adds an extra element of mystery to this hauntingly beautiful place.

Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle was built in 1460 on the site of three previous castles and it is thought that William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, lived here as an infant. Today the castle exhibits one of the finest collections of 15th- to 17thcentury art, furnishings and accoutrements in northern Europe. Another feature of this area is the Bunratty Folk Park, just behind the castle. Here you will see the rural heritage of Ireland - basketmaking, cooking, breadmaking, farming and housing. It's a valuable insight into history.

Adare
This is a very pretty village whose thatched wayside cottages were built as tenant homes in the 19th century by Lord Dunraven, the builder of Adare Manor The Augustinian Friory has a true medieval feel, while the 13th-century Trinitarian Abbey is the only house of the order in Ireland. Both are still in use, the former by the Church of Ireland, the latter by the Catholic church.

Ring of Kerry, Killarney
This is a hundred mile route around the Iveragh Peninsula, which is one of the world's great scenic drives. This route, an amazing mixture of rugged mountains, winding valleys and dramatic seascapes, begins and ends in Killarney.

Muckross House, Killarney
This is a truly impressive 19th-century manor with a Portland stone exterior. Here you'll see exhibits of Kerry folklife, including ancient forms of harvesting, printing, pottery, weaving and hand-carved period furniture. The subtropical gardens and the nature walks offer a fine example of the beauty and serenity of the country.

Gap of Dunloe. Killarney
This is a four-mile gulch carved by glaciers. The trip can be accomplished in part or entirely by pony trap. The boulders rise high on either side and several seemingly bottomless tarns converge to form a surging stream that runs alongside the road. From the top of the gap the views are breathtakingly compounded of purple mountains, the Upper Lake, and the Cummeenduff rolling into the hills.

Cork
Cork is the second city of the Republic and claims to be the cultural capital. Built on an island formed by two channels of the River Lee, Cork was a monastic settlement in the 7th century. Later plundered by Norse invaders, it became a thriving centre of commerce. There are many architectural pleasures to be discovered in the city, including the French Gothic cathedral and St Anne's Shandon, where the famous Bells of Shandon are played on request.

Blarney Castle, Blarney
Blarney castle is one of Ireland's premier tourist attractions. Every year thousands of people climb the 127 steps to kiss the famous Stone of Eloquence which, it is said, gives you the gift of the blarney! The castle was built in the 1 5th century and, together with the lovely village, is worth a visit

Southeast

Waterford
Famous for the Waterford Glass Factory, thousands of people converge here each year to see the most renowned crystal works in the world, whose products have made their way in to the wealthiest international households. In the town you can explore the handsome quays overlooking the peaceful River Suir.

County Wicklow
Known as the "garden of Ireland", it's hills, valleys, mansions and gardens make it a county of fascinating beauty and variety. The 6th century early Christian settlement at Glendalough is of outstanding historical interest and great beauty.

Dublin
Founded by the Vikings a thousand years ago, it's a cosmopolitan city with a strong historical flavor, particularly of the 18th century Georgian period. It's a bustling city of elegant hotels, restaurants, pubs and famous shops.

Malahide
In the popular seaside resort of Malahide you will find Malahide Castle. It was built in the late 12th century by Sir Richard de Talbot and held by that family until the late 1970's when it was acquired by Dublin County Council as a historical site. There are nearly 300 acres of grounds, including lovely gardens. The castle itself is in excellent condition and contains a remarkable assortment of Irish period furniture along with a collection of oils belonging to the late Lord Talbot of Malahide.

Kilkenny
Ireland's finest medieval city, Kilkenny is small and charming with some rare Elizabethan architecture and ancient by-ways, known as slips. The 12th- to 13th-century castle houses an art gallery. The town museum is in the Rothe House, a 16th-century merchant house. Rich with ecclesiastical buildings, the town has both 13th- and 19th-century cathedrals, a ruined 13th-century priory and two 13th- century abbeys.

North

Giants Causeway, Bushmills No trip to Northern Ireland would be complete without a trip to this incredible spectacle, formed some 60 million years ago by a volcanic eruption. Many of the basalt columns are hexagonal, the tallest are some 36 feet high.

County Down Down is St Patrick's country His boat was swept into Strangford Lough and he came ashore on the Lecale peninsula. Many places have strong associations with the Saint. Saul, where he is said to have preached his first gospel and later died; the Struell healing wells and St Patrick's Grave at Down Cathedral, a special place of pilgrimage on 17 March.

North Antrim Coast The scenic A2 coast road provides a memorable experience. From Larne in the east the road clips the heads of the Nine Glens of Antrim on its way north, through charming sleepy villages. A minor coast road leads through wonderful cliffland scenery to the tiny rocky islet fishery of Carrick-a-Rede. Rejoin the A2 which continues to the Giant's Causeway and passes the 16th-century Dunluce Castle on its way to the Londonderry border at Portrush.

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